Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Published by Viking on March 3rd, 2020
Genres: Essays, Feminism, Race
“An intersectional approach to feminism requires understanding that too often mainstream feminism ignores that Black women and other women of color are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine of hate.”
Note: Please check the links at the end of the review in response to what’s going on in the world right now. Remember to educate yourself, and listen and uplift Black voices.
A lot of books by Black authors have shot up on the bestsellers lists and have incredibly long waitlists at the library. This took me forever to get at my library!
In Hood Feminism, Mikki Kendall argues that today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue. Things such as food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues.
Unfortunately, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. Prominent white feminists suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. So how can we stand in solidarity as a movement when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
In a collection of essays, Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement by drawing on her own experiences along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, and more.
This book isn’t meant to be pleasant. It’s also not meant to be a victory lap for how far we’ve come as a movement.
Quite simply put, this book calls out everyone on their bullshit. And rightly so, too!
Too often the image the media puts out of a unified movement is of an upper class, cisgender, straight, white, educated woman.
And I’ll admit, my own feminism is coloured by these things. I think of myself as a feminist, but I’m blind to so many of these issues raised by Kendall.
That’s why I couldn’t put this book down. It felt like I was learning at such a fast pace without being bogged down by too many dry statistics. Kendall delves deep into gun violence, mental health, education, and poverty to demonstrate how these things disproportionately affect the Black community (mainly women). These issues aren’t new. We’re all familiar with them, but I’ve never seen them from an intersectional feminist point of view.
And speaking of intersectional feminism, I appreciated Kendall’s note of her own privilege. She made sure to mention several times that members of the LGBTQIA also face discrimination and often times at a higher degree than herself as a Black woman.
These chapters are harrowing. Kendall talks about uncomfortable topics that are made more distressing when she adds in her own personal experience dealing with these situations.
I was struck by Kendall’s discussion about Black women and the lack of emotional and mental support they receive. She mentions that Black women are considered stronger and tougher, so they aren’t included in mental health discussions.
And the same goes for health issues, such as eating disorders. They often go unnoticed because the bodies of Black women don’t fit into the stereotypical white woman body.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again in feminist texts. There’s a lot of “Well, here’s what’s wrong” and then there’s no conclusion or call to action. But with Hood Feminism, Kendall provides actionable things that we can all do.
Remember, your feminism isn’t feminism unless it’s intersectional. As feminists, we must work within the communities, be allies, form alliances, and amplify voices!
I highly recommend that you pick this book up. I guarantee you’ll learn things or see things from a new perspective. And we could all be better feminists, you know?
The best resource for ways to help, where you can donate, and protest FAQs: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
If you’re Canadian like I am, please consider donating to these places:
- https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/ (Remember, your feminism isn’t valid until it’s intersectional)
You can find numerous anti-racist book lists, but here’s one that I’ve been referring to: https://bookshop.org/lists/anti-racism
Black Lives Matter.